New hair regs in the Army unfair to women, some soldiers say

The U.S. Army this week issued new orders — 69 pages of them — that dictate the personal appearance of people in uniform.

Lipstick, for example, can’t contrast with the natural color of lips. And only four tattoos can be visible. Eye glasses must be “conservative.”

But it’s the section on hair, particularly those for women, that is causing a bit of a backlash among some troops.

These hairstyles are out:

U.S. Army

Some braids are allowed. But no twists.

U.S. Army

Cornrows are allowed, according to the Army, but no scalp can show between cornrows and it can’t be more than 1/4 inch thick.

Is that a racist — or at least a culturally insensitive — policy?

“I’ve been in the military six years, I’ve had my hair natural four years, and it’s never been out of regulation. It’s never interfered with my head gear,” Sgt. Jasmine Jacobs, of the Georgia National Guard, tells USA Today. She wears two twists, so she started a White House petition drive to get the regulations relaxed a bit.

“Most black women, their hair doesn’t grow straight down, it grows out,” she said. “I’m disappointed to see the Army, rather than inform themselves on how black people wear their hair, they’ve white-washed it all.”

“I’d say the military needs to rethink the dreadlocks policy,” a commenter on the Washington Post story on the subject writes, “but I think it would be impossible to come up with a non-subjective standard for how dreadlocks should appear. For example, some dreadlocks are more well-kept than others. I don’t think military superiors really want to be put into a situation in which they are evaluating whether someone’s dreadlocks are maintained well enough. That would open a can of worms and incite more racial bias claims. Better for the Army just to just say dreads are not allowed.”